The practice of mindfulness is a great tool to stay focused, remain calm, and generally feel better about life in general. Wouldn’t it be great to be focused and calm when you are attending a big event and hoping to network with a room full of strangers? As I write this blog, I’m excited about the upcoming event called Podcast Movement in Fort Worth, Texas, running from July 31 to August 2, 2015 and these are the techniques that I’ll be using to network like a pro. These techniques are a synthesis of my mindfulness practice and everything I’ve learned over the years from networking at organizations such as BNI. They have made all the difference in how I network, and I hope they help you network like a pro.
Here are your 10 top networking tips:
1. Be Well Rested. Attending an event can mean a lot of planning, special transportation, and hotel rooms. Plan out your details ahead of time. Make lists of important details like what you’ll bring, speakers at the event and names of people you want to meet while at the event.
2. Take Deep Breaths. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event itself so take full breaths and also keep a water bottle with you so you’ll remain well hydrated.
3. Pace Yourself. Ahead of time, thoughtfully consider the itinerary and realize that at most conferences you will not be able to take everything in. Choose what you think you’ll benefit the most from and then go from there.
4. Make Eye Contact. Networking is all about connecting to people so give your full attention to the person you’re talking with at any given time. There’s nothing worse than someone asking what you do, and then looking down to check their phone. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and show genuine interest in the other person.
5. Quality Over Quantity. Meeting a few quality contacts can be more valuable than briefly meeting dozens of people you won’t remember. You probably have your avatar well established in your mind, so concentrate on talking with people who appear to fit the identity of your avatar. As you say ‘hi’ to people, they will often direct you to others they have talked to who do fit your avatar even if they don’t.
6. Exit Gracefully. Sometimes you might get trapped with someone who talks so much you just aren’t sure how to escape. If the person you’re talking to does not fit your avatar and you just want to meet someone else, be prepared with a line like, “I have to go find my business partner”, or whatever works for you.
7. Practice your 30 Second Intro. Have a short ‘elevator blurb’ written and memorized ahead of time. It says concisely what you do, and it leaves curiosity in the mind of the person you’re speaking with. After hearing your 30 second explanation, I should clearly understand what you do, even if I am a random person on the street who has never before talked to anyone in your profession.
8. Be Generous. The idea of being a generous giver is central to BNI. After you attend a conference, the people you remember are likely to be the ones who generously offered you some help, a book, a ticket to another event and so on. Rather than thinking, “What can I get out of this person”, think about “what can I give this person”. Speaking of something to offer, it’s OK to have business cards, but you don’t need to give them to everyone. There’s nothing worse than the person who says two lines about what they do and then shoves a business card in your face. If the person seems interested, you can give them your card, otherwise you might want to hold off.
9. Take Notes. A day after the conference ends, book time in your schedule to thoughtfully go through your notes and do it again a week later. Use your notes to create blogs, make social media posts, and even go live on Periscope to share what you’ve learned. Those notes are gold. They can provide you with material for your own podcasts, emails, articles, and blogs for weeks to come.
10. Smile and Enjoy! Attending a conference should be fun and energizing. Allow yourself to enjoy the experience and let your newfound knowledge and connections propel you forward in your own path in business.